West Midlands’ Forced Marriage Shame

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The Region Has Been Exposed As A Hotspot For Forced Marriages

The West Midlands has been found to be a hotspot for illegal forced marriages within the country, with a shocking number of illegal ceremonies being conducted within the region.

West Midlands Police have recorded 85 suspected forced marriages flagged up in the previous five years.

National charity Karma Nirvana has said they have already received 213 calls for help since January, with 399 being made to the charity in 2014.

According to an agency set up by the Home Office and Foreign Office, the region accounts for 12 per cent of all cases of forced marriages in the country and has the second highest level of forced marriages within the UK.

The shocking figured emerged after a week in which, in a move which serves as a legal landmark for the country, the first successful prosecution for forced marriage took place after new legislation was introduced last year to make the act illegal.

Wolverhampton North East MP Emma Reynolds said: “I am concerned about the problem in the West Midlands and I am sure these figures do not tell the full story.

“I expect there are many more out there who remain hidden. I think it was right that the law was changed and hopefully the first successful conviction will show people will be punished for this and act as a deterrent.”

The matter of tackling forced marriages is exasperated by the fact that victims are often taken abroad to be forced into wedlock against their will.

The Home Office and Foreign Office’s joint Forced Marriage Unit said that approximately a fifth of forced marriages took place in the UK whilst 77 per cent of the 1,267 cases in 2014 involved a foreign country. Cases of forced marriage were spread over 88 countries, with the majority of marriages taking place in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

West Midlands Police Sergeant Trudy Runham, said: “Forced marriage is a serious offence and often linked to sexual offences, domestic abuse and ‘household slavery’. West Midlands Police is committed to tackling the issue and has created Team Sentinel to help victims, identify offenders and work with affected communities.

“Every year it is estimated that between 8,000 and 10,000 people in the UK are forced into a marriage – that’s 30 per day. We have specially trained officers who will guide and support victims to help free them from force marriages or take action to prevent one occurring.”

If you are worried you might be forced into marriage or are worried about a friend or relative call the Forced Marriage Unit on 0207 008 0151 or email fmu@fco.gov.uk . 

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